Rest/physical therapy Vs. Tommy John


After some serious elbow pain while pitching a couple weeks ago, I went to my doctor to have my elbow looked at. He diagnosed it as a UCL sprain. He said that to return to pitching, I could either do Tommy John, or try rehabbing with rest and physical therapy. However, he did not guarantee that the rest/PT approach would work… only mentioned that I could try it. Has anyone out there gone the rest/physical therapy route after a UCL injury and had success in returning to their previous level of pitching? Please comment on your experience with this if you tried it.


Very sorry to hear that. I’d go with the TJ now, if it were me and the options were rehab or surgery and start the road back to health.


Did you have an MRI? You need to know where and the degree of tear to make that decision.

Best of luck,



I have seen two doctors. The first ordered an MRI and decided that my UCL was torn near my ulna. The second doctor I saw thought that my first MRI was actually indecisive and so ordered a second MRI, this time with dye. The radiologist who read my second MRI said that my ligament was actually healthy near my ulna but was torn in a different location. My Orthopaedic surgeon reviewed the MRI himself, and showed it to a different radiologist who determined that this MRI was actually inconclusive as well and that all they could tell me was that the ligament was abnormal, which I am told is what any pitcher’s ligament would look like, even asymptomatic ones. My PT has told me that the MRI’s are so up to debate as to how to read them that the best way to determine the extent of the injury is by a physical exam. According to my PT (a former PT for a big league ball club with lots of experience with TJ injuries), my physical exam is good and he is optimistic that I don’t need TJ and can return to pitching without it. I have started going down the PT route and have slowly been getting back into some light-throwing, and so far everything has been pain free. I am hoping my progress continues.

Has anyone else had an experience like this where the MRI results were so inconclusive?


Yes, I have the almost exact same issue occurring with me at the moment. I am going to post about it, so I can get responses, and advice due to the fact that my story is slightly different from yours. Please feel free to read it. How does your arm feel now after PT?